A vacant home has a way of attracting unwanted attention. Family, friends and neighbors sometimes assume they can select a few items from the decedant’s property that “no one will miss.” These situations have a way of escalating fast.

1. If the probate property is vacant, change the locks as soon as possible. Executors are within their rights to secure any real property belonging to the estate. Protecting the home and its contents is in the best interests of the state and in the best interests of the beneficiaries.

2. Take photographs of the contents within the home. A room-by-room approach works best. Once any valuables are photographed and documented, they should be moved to a safe location. A safe deposit box at a bank may be used for small valuables. A secure storage unit may be advisable for larger items. Ask your probate attorney for guidance.

3. An inventory and appraisal filing is required for formal California probate. The inventory must list assets that are known to the Executor, or are in the possession of the Executor. Any items you relocate must be accounted for in this inventory, and must be accessible for appraisal.

4. Promptly notify the mortgage company of the owner’s death, if a mortgage is active on the property. The homeowner’s insurance company should also be notified, as well as the utility companies. A copy of the death certificate, along with a letter identifying the related account number should be supplied, as well as the contact information for the Executor.

5. Utilities should be maintained for lights, heating and air conditioning until the property is sold. A timer can be used with interior and exterior lighting to make the home appear occupied. Running a radio or television on a timer is another helpful tactic.

6. Any mail going to the home should be routinely picked up while mail forwarding and cancelation notices are in progress.

7. Exterior areas should be maintained and kept free of weeds and debris.
If the home has immediate repair needs, discuss them with an experienced California probate broker. Every property and local real estate market is different; some properties may be advisable to sell “as-is” and others can do better with repairs and updating.

Please note, this article is intended to provide general information for Estate Representatives and Executors as introductory topics. We cannot provide you with legal advice, nor is any content in this article intended as legal advice.

We are a real estate brokerage company that specializes in the sale of residential and commercial probate properties. Our company was founded by a 20+ year real estate veteran and attorney. While we are not acting as attorneys on your behalf, our unique experience will help you avoid costly mistakes and enable the best sales results for the property. Let us help you today!